Pope to leaders: ‘Don’t turn South Sudan into cemetery, stop bloodshed’

His Holiness Pope Francis has asked President Salva Kiir and his five deputies to accept to implement the peace deal genuinely to stop bloodshed that the country has continued to experience in the last few years since 2013.

The Holy Father pleaded with the leaders to get rid of violence that persisted in the nation to avoid turning it into cemetery.

The old pontiff said South Sudan is a beautiful country with the history of the River Nile which could make it a peaceful and desired country but said the war and the violence turned the course of history making South Sudan a country where “…children no longer bury their parents, but parents bury their children,”

“In order that this land may not turn into a cemetery, but become once more a luxuriant garden, I beg you, with all my heart, to accept four simple words: not my words, but those of Christ. He himself spoke them in a garden, in Gethsemane, when, to a disciple of his who had drawn a sword, he cried: “No more of this!”

The pontiff reminded the leaders of the 2019’s gesture in Rome where he kissed their feet during the two days spiritual retreat begging them to stay in peace as brothers and sisters.

“…in the name of God, of the God to whom we prayed together in Rome, of the God who is gentle and humble in heart (Mt 11:29), the God in whom so many people of this beloved country believe,” he asked

“Dear President and Vice-Presidents, […] now is the time to say no more bloodshed, no more conflicts, no more violence and mutual recriminations about who is responsible for it, no more leaving your people athirst for peace. No more destruction: it is time to build! Leave the time of war behind and let a time of peace dawn!”

The Holy See who is being accompanied by Dr. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Rev. Dr. Lain Greenshields, the Moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, said they undertook the ecumenical pilgrimage of peace to the country after hearing the plea of the entire South Sudanese.

“With great dignity, weeps for the violence it endures, its persistent lack of security, its poverty and the natural disasters that it has experienced as sustained by the years of war and conflict seem never to end.”

The holy father sadly recalled recent series of subnational violence that have claimed tens of lives and displaced thousands of people across the country specially the parts of Jonglei state and Greater Pibor administrative Area.

“…even recently there have been bitter clashes. At the same time, the process of reconciliation seems stagnant and the promise of peace unfulfilled.”

“The process of peace and reconciliation requires a new start. May an understanding be reached and progress be made in moving forward with the Peace Accord and the Road Map!”

In the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement, South Sudan was expected to go for election in 2023 according to the agreement but due to slow implementation of the deal, the parties to the agreement in august 2022 extended the transitional period for 24 months in order to implement the remaining provisions.

This now makes South Sudan expect it first ever general election by the end of 2024.

The tasks that are not yet implement include the permanent constitution, reviewing of the elections laws, establishment of hybrid court and the commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing.